The White Plains Examiner

Lawmakers Call to Cancel Thruway Authority Cashless Tolling Contract

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During a press conference July 12, Senator David Carlucci holds up a redacted page from a contract between Conduent and the NYS Thruway Authority. Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (right) holds the remaining 1,600-page contract.

State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Greenburgh) and State Senator David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown) called on the New York State Thruway Authority last week to cancel its $72 million contract extension with Conduent.

Conduent is the private company operating New York’s cashless tolling system.

In 2007, the Thruway Authority signed a 10-year contract with Conduent for $20 million a year, totaling $202.5 million. Despite problems with the cashless tolling system, the Thruway Authority extended its contract for another three years in October 2017 for $72 million ($24 million a year).

Abinanti and Carlucci cited Conduent’s mismanagement leading to the 2018 state amnesty program, which cleared 281,000 Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (former Tappan Zee Bridge) violations worth more than $1.4 million.

“Conduent still hasn’t fixed its chaotic collection system where registrations are put at risk if people don’t pay exorbitant penalties for toll bills they never received,” said Abinanti. “Conduent is a private corporation that’s reaching its bottom line on the backs of hardworking New Yorkers. We need government to work for the people not against them.”

“Too many people have called my office in tears not understanding how they could owe thousands of dollars in toll bills for going over the bridge only a few times,” said Carlucci.

Both lawmakers have been calling for reforms to the cashless tolling system after hearing complaints from residents who were charged exorbitant penalties and fines. In some cases people claimed they never received their initial bill, and there were reports of drivers who had their vehicle registration suspended due to unpaid toll bills.

Carlucci obtained the Thruway Authority’s contract with Conduent through a freedom of information request. He said he was stunned to find the contract was largely redacted.

“What are they hiding here?” Carlucci asked. “At least 500 pages of the 1,569-page contract are largely blacked out. Parts about quality assurance, performance standards, transaction processing, toll evasion processing, and image review processing are missing. We need transparency when we have seen this many residents complain.”

According to the legislators, the Thruway Authority can withhold payments to Conduent when it does not meet certain performance standards. Documents from the Thruway Authority show Conduent was financially penalized $477,272 for failing to meet customer service standards from April 2015 to January 2017, but the area in the contract labeled “performance standards” has been redacted.

Additionally, a press release issued by Abinanti and Carlucci stated: “Conduent has been plagued with issues in other states across the country. In Texas and Maryland, amnesty programs had to be implemented similar to New York due to billing errors, and in California, about 16,000 residents filed a class-action lawsuit against Conduent for not receiving their initial toll bills in the mail. Maryland ended up canceling its contract with the company in 2017, and Florida is threatening to follow suit if Conduent does not make improvements after its system went offline for nearly one month.”

New York’s contract offers a termination clause that gives the Thruway Authority the right to postpone, suspend, abandon or terminate the contract at any time for any reason if written notice is provided 45 days prior to suspension.

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